Dear freshers, here’s how to get through dropout season in Edinburgh

We’ve all been there

October is here and it’s official: we’ve entered dropout season. Lectures have started to drag on in a monotonous bore, the food in your fridge looks more unappealing by the minute and the repeated questions like “what halls are you in?” and “what course do you do?” haunt you in your sleep. 

As much as we laugh and joke about being a fresher, it is by no means easy. New city, new faces, new homes and new lives and yet we’re all plagued by the same thought: is it too early to call it quits? The simple answer: yes. The more complex answer: in most cases, yes.  

Like most first years, I suffered a case of dropout chills bad. I rarely went to lectures, and when I did, I paid zero attention. I was constantly on the phone to my parents, trying to avoid the reality they were now so many miles away. I drank myself to oblivion wondering why on earth the alcohol wasn’t having the same quirky effect it had on those around me.  

Despite being down pretty bad in first year, I managed a full recovery and now I can’t picture myself in any other city. So, if you fear your immune system is too weak to hack the quitting epidemic, here’s a comprehensive guide to get you through.

1. Let go of all your expectations

There is nothing more humbling than walking through campus on your first day, snapping pictures of Old College, frolicking through the meadows, drinking pints in the library bar (rip), only to have your first lecture take place a dingy lecture theatre.  

We’ve all been there – with the Gilmore Girls’ soundtrack playing, wearing dark academia outfits pinned on Instagram but somehow, just somehow, the vibes of a 9am tutorial up 5 flights of stairs in Appleton tower don’t seem to match.  

Don’t get me wrong, Edinburgh is a beautiful city that certainly deserves to be romanticised but if you’re expecting it to be glitz and glamour 24/7 then you’ve got the wrong idea of university.  

It’s time to let go of all these expectations – both of yourself and of university. Those “day in the life” TikToks on your feed of a put-together third year doing next week’s readings on the way back from Pilates at Pleasance? Forget about it. First year is hard enough without all the readings and assignments so it’s perfectly understandable if you’re trying to figure out your routine, rather than being the productive academic weapon you told yourself you’d be. 

Besides, once you get rid of these expectations you’ll find beauty round every corner – maybe even in the rooms of Hive. 

expectations vs. reality

2. Spend time with yourself 

Some of my fondest memories from first year are moments I spent alone. As much as it’s nice to be surrounded by people, discovering new places by myself reminded me that I was in charge of my own life, and solitude, as miserable as it may sound, is quite calming. 

The great thing about Edinburgh is that it has something for everyone. If you’re sporty you can run or swim at Portobello beach. Ifyou’re into fashion, you can search the charity shops in Stockbridge. If you’re a bookworm, you can get lost in all the bookshops around Morningside and Marchmont.


Spending time with yourself by doing the things you love in a new city can help the fresh start seem more manageable. Never underestimate the enjoyment that your own company can provide. 

3. Go Home

I know that going home with a case of the dropout blues might seem like a silly idea but it also could be the remedy you need.  

Mid-October I found myself on the train to London, fully expecting to never return to Edinburgh again. But once I got home, I was hit with a strange feeling. With my parents at work and friends all off at their own universities, being home felt empty. 

I was so uncomfortable with the idea of change at university that I didn’t consider that things at home were also changing. New friendship circles had emerged, new stores had opened– time wasn’t going to stay still just for me whether I liked it or not. So why not embrace the change? 

Aside from the dramatics, going home can be a nice reminder that what you miss is never too far away, but once it gets too much, it can also be a great reminder of why you left to begin with. 

3. Find a comfort show

Comfort shows are a brilliant way to find peace on some of those more stressful and unpredictable days.  

Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, Suits, Fleabag – you name it, I watched it over my first year of university. Hot chocolate in hand, deadlines in the bin, this was my treat for a long hard day’s worth of existing. 

Whether true crime is your forte (sadist) or you prefer a 20-minute comedy, there is no problem a little bit of escapism cannot solve. Maybe you’re not exactly living the studious life of Rory Gilmore but hey – with a click of a remote (or mouse, because who can afford a T.V on a uni budget) you can at least pretend to be. 

4. Know that everyone is feeling the same way 

Everyone I know has considered dropping out at one point or another, take it as your unofficial Edinburgh matriculation. 

While that might seem like a terrible stat reflecting badly on the university, it is just a simple confirmation that you are human. Whatever city you end up in, change is a scary, emotionally draining thing.   

It may seem like every person around you has their life put together but most of the time that isn’t the case. As much as I’ve tried to “rebrand” myself this year through meal preps and hot girl walks around Dean Village, I’m still trying to find my place. First year or fourth year, we’ve all got stuff going on and we all can feel the urge to give up.  

So instead of beating yourself up for not enjoying the path you’ve chosen, be vulnerable – talk to those around you about how you’re feeling, and chances are you could make a valuable friend to help you along the experience. 

And at the end of the day, if you’ve read through this list and still think that your course or the university isn’t your cup of tea, there is no harm in reconsidering your options. However, to the rest of you who just need a tad more reassurance, know like most things – it will pass. 

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